IN recent times, it is a known fact that there is a sharp decline in revenues accruing from oil sales, globally. Nigeria is no exception, and has been affected by this global endemic, as a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Consequently, the negative trend has telling effects on monthly allocation accruing from the Federation Account to its two other tiers of government. As a way to remain afloat, both the federal and state governments have devised other means of generating revenues for the day-to-day running of government. The government, at all levels, individuals and corporate organisations, have divested into agricultural business as a tested, viable and reliable sector to bridge the yawning gap in respect to the hitherto over-reliance on the oil proceeds for survival. On account of its dominant role, agriculture is a key player in poverty reduction and job creation.
Narrowing it down to Ogun State, the current administration has put a premium on the sector to guarantee food security, job creation and ultimately, as a source of generating revenues into the coffers of government and also shore up its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base.
The agricultural agenda of the present administration is geared towards giving support to private sector’s small holder farming and linkage to industrial process, job creation, agricultural industrialisation, food and nutrition aimed at ensuring food security and the resolve to connect all agencies and multinational/international development partners that have the mandate of agricultural and value chain actors.
It is heartwarming to note that this dairy and cattle value chain job and food security have formed parts of the Agricultural Road Map of the APC-led administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun when it assumed the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2019. No wonder early this year, the administration approved a special focus on food and nutrition with linkage of the people of the state to the nutritious food of animal and plants. The intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which is a partner in this initiative, is a main financial anchor for numerous linkage programmes in agriculture, with a record breaking 7,000 linkages to credit and input, for cassava and rice in a short and restrictive COVID-19 season, without precedence. Indeed, it is a good development that the CBN and the state officials in the CBN/Ogun State Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) steering committee, in collaboration with Cattle Farmers Association in the state, have compiled a list of interested youths in the state and farmers who have registered with the state, for Dairy and Cattle Value Chain job opportunities.
Without mincing words, it is a cheery news that the state government has opened up new opportunities for potential investors, resulting from the new framework for Responsible Intensive Land Investment In Agriculture (FRILIA) that was recently signed by His Excellency as an Executive Order. Thus, the rationale behind the gesture is geared towards providing supplementary free investment promotion advice and training to value chain actors, so that the state can continue to reap the benefits, including job creation, food security and sustainability of industries and the overall well-being of the people.
Worthy of note is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ogun State government and Fan Milk Plc, a French company, on Thursday, January 28, 2021 that signalled the beginning of another milestone in the industrial revolution efforts in the state.
At the signing of the partnership agreement witnessed by the France Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Jerome Pasquier; France Consul-General in Lagos, Mrs Laurence Monmayrant; Regional Agricultural Counsellor, Dr Sonia Darracq; Economic Counsellor, Mr Paschal Furth; chairman, FAN Milk, Mr Olayinka Akinkugbe; Managing Director, Ferdinand Moukwa; Company Secretary and Legal Adviser, Mr Olakunle Olusanya; Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Tokunbo Talabi; Chief of Staff (CoS), Alhaji Shuaib Salisu; Commissioner for Finance, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, Commissioner for Commerce, Trade and Investment, Mrs Kikelomo Longe; Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, among others, the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, noted that agriculture remains a key sector that the administration upon assumption of office on May 29, 2019, has seriously been working hard on to ensure that the state becomes the food hub of the nation.
While lending credence to President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda of “Grow what you eat and eat what you grow”, the governor acknowledged the contribution of the FAN Milk Plc, dating back to five decades of operations and expressed hope that the signing of the MoU would help the state in its human capacity building and as well as job creation.
“Agriculture is one of our key sectors. We have the land, the people and traditional farmers. Today, we have done so much to become number one in egg, poultry and cassava production in the country, and rice, kola nuts, cocoa and cotton production in the entire West African sub-region. Our fish production has become a model in the continent.
“We see this opportunity, not just to further increase our contributions to food security, but particularly to allow us reduce the level of unemployment. We realised that Agriculture is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce unemployment.
“This is what we want to see in this relationship. It has to go beyond what FAN Milk Plc could get out of this, but how much capacity building are we going to see with this? How many jobs are we going to see with this? Because, we all know that, as we reduce unemployment, we will see a positive benefit in the reduction in crime rate”, the Governor averred.
In his own remarks, the France Ambassador, Pasquier, justified the singing of the papers which he said, would help in no small measure to reduce food importation and increase food security. He added that the company is poised to diversify, by using local raw materials for production.
“The MoU is a step in corporate alliance, with one of the most successful (Ogun) states in the country. When fully operational, the partnership would help create job opportunities for the people of the state and also help develop the modern rearing method of local cows and production of dairy in the state.
“I am happy with the state in the areas of agriculture and education. You have performed very well and it is my happiness seeing a French company like FAN Milk taking its fair share of the state’s industrial activities,” said the ambassador.
Also, the chairman, FAN Milk, Mr. Akinkugbe, declared that the company has settled down in the state in order to tap from its agricultural potential for the development of the state and the country at large. He added that the company has come to contribute to the employment drive of the present administration and the education of the farming communities in the state as well as to benefit from the available infrastructure meant for the investors in the state.
Subsequently, at the ground breaking event of laying the foundation of the proposed FAN Milk & Danone Model Dairy Farm and Dairy Training Institute located at Odeda Farm Institute, an outskirts of the state capital, Abeokuta, the Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, said that the government is doing a lot of vigorous engagements, by placing greater responsibility and recognition on the farmers. He, however, appealed to the company for support and cooperation.
“Here in Odeda Farm Institute, we have 47,000 capacity cassava demonstration technology to deliver 50,000 tonnes of cassava. It is a value chain technology which ought to serve the entire state and beyond. Because, here, we have a driving chain opportunity. Soon, we are going to approach the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) for an award of Diploma certificates”, Odedina said.
- Ilori wrote in from Abeokuta
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